Bank starts projects to attract new businesses

Published 4:18 am Wednesday, July 1, 2015

United Bank has started several projects designed to attract new businesses to Atmore.

Bob Jones, president and CEO of United Bank, told members of the Atmore Industrial Development Board on Thursday about the plans for the projects. Jones is also a board member.

Jones said that the bank is planning to open a business incubator, located on East Church Street in the old home of Jerry’s Hardware. The bank will use about half of the building’s 10,000-square-foot space, and the remaining space will be used to house a start-up business or businesses.

“We’re promoting it as an opportunity to people who are interested in starting a business, and need a hand-up to get things kicked off,” Jones said.

“Typically, they would stay in there for no more than a year. Hopefully, they’ll then be able to expand and move into a more permanent location, and they we can replenish the incubator for another business.”

Jones said that the incubator is modeled after a similar program in place at the University of West Florida in Pensacola, Fla. He said that various community partners, including Frontier, Alabama Power, and the University of South Alabama, are also helping with the project.

Prospective businesses may also be able to get help with financing and other resources if they choose to open in the incubator building, Jones said.

Larry Strain is in charge of the project for United Bank. For more information, call him at (850) 291-1374 or send an email to larry.strain@unitedbank.com.

Jones also said that the plan is for a food truck to park in the space behind the incubator building, on Mondays. He noted that this is another way to encourage business development.

“We’ve had interest from several food vendors,” he said. “It would only be on Mondays, since that’s a day there tends to be fewer dining options in town. It would give them an opportunity to test the market, and see if there is an interest for their food. Then, hopefully, some of them might move into a permanent restaurant facility.”

Jones said that the permitting process for the County Health Department is not yet complete, but the food trucks will be allowed to park once the permits are finalized.